The Manchester Derby was played Tuesday evening, with crosstown rivals Manchester United FC and Manchester City FC facing off in a match-up which could have been a moment of redemption for embattled United manager David Moyes; a moment missed in the end. Moyes, since taking over in May of last year, has struggled to match the success his club has historically seen in the Premier League. A win in Tuesday’s match against their rivals from across town might have deflected some of the ire from supporters who are already calling for his sacking. Instead, more fuel has been added to the fire, as his squad was not only beaten, but handily so.
Their sixth home defeat of the season, the fact that this miss was the derby against Manchester City made the impact on Manchester United fans that much more of a damaging moment for Moyes. The emotion surrounding these matches is always high, and the potential for reprieve on the heels of a symbolic victory was real. Beating City in the derby is a primary goal for United supporters, even in a season where it would present little chance of impacting their chances of winning the Premier League title. The fact that the loss, instead, just about closes the door on that possibility makes is that much more of a disappointment given the pre-match expectations of the supporters. Moyes finds himself under even more scrutiny, with campaigns on Twitter and other social media outlets already underway calling for him to be removed. Not fazed by this criticism, Moyes accepted responsibility for the loss and showed optimism that his squad would continue to improve.
While not challenging his coach, Manchester United star, Wayne Rooney, was not shy with his comments. He described the derby as a”bad night” and concluded that the United effort in the match was “not good enough.” He did point to the success the club has seen in the Champions league, looking forward to their quarter-final appearance as a potential turnaround point for the club. Despite being perpetually behind in this year’s Premier League campaign, Moyes’ club has never really been painted in the underdog role.
In the Champions League, that is not the case. It may very well be that the determination to overcome the common assumption that they are extreme long-shots to win will be the common cause that finally allows the talented side to live up to its potential. Many of the players on the squad, Rooney included, have an eye on any international contest now that the World Cup in Brazil is less than 100 days away. Given the widespread popularity of the club internationally, perhaps the world stage is a fitting place for the squad to stage a reversal of direction. Regardless, there are fewer and fewer matches coming up which have the significance of a Manchester Derby or a Champions League tie. It will likely take a convincing performance in such a match for Moyes to regain much of the support he has lost among fans.
Tuesday’s loss leaves Moyes’ club 18 points behind Chelsea in the Premier League table. While professing confidence, even the struggling manager has had to admit that the outlook for Premier League silverware is fairly bleak. If Manchester United is going to have the type of season that will be required to keep Moyes off the chopping block, they cannot continue to miss the opportunities which moments like the derby against Manchester City present.
By Jim Malone